Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Three Lovers on the Grift - 5



"Bon jour, Guinevere," Nigel said with a slaughtered French accent as he made a sweeping bow.

"Oh, Papi, look, it's Lancelot, or at least I think that's who he's supposed to be." Page exclaimed, hanging onto Vaughn's arm as she grinned coquettishly at Nigel.

Vaughn scowled but kept his peace for the moment, saying with feigned cordiality, "Welcome, Lancelot. I am Sir Arthur and this is, as you have surmised, my wife Guinevere."

One of the women standing nearby, who was dressed, Nigel thought, as Carmen, fluttered her eyelashes and her fan when he glanced in her direction. The man standing next to her in a matador's outfit frowned as deeply as Vaughn had, muttering "Show off" as he wrapped his arm tightly around his woman.

Page, overhearing the man, said in a stage whisper to the woman, "And he has a lot to show off."

Now Vaughn let his presumed anger rise to the surface. He took Page's hand, starting to lead her away. She resisted, telling him in no uncertain terms that he did not own her, despite what he might think. They held a short, heated discussion that ended with his slapping her face, much to the shock of the onlookers, before he stomped away.

* * * *

Nigel, playing knight errant, started after him only to be stopped by Page who grabbed his arm while rubbing her cheek where Vaughn's hand had left a dark red print.

"Please, don't cause any more of a scene than he already has," she begged.

Nigel hesitated, glaring at Vaughn's vanishing back, and then asked Page, "Are you all right? Would you like to sit down or—something?"

"She needs a drink," one of the female party-goers stated in no uncertain terms. "What a bastard," she added.

"No, she needs to sit down, or lie down," another woman put in.

"I—" Page sighed, touching her cheek again with her fingertips.

"If you'll find her somewhere to sit, I'll get her a drink," Nigel told the two women.

They immediately took charge of Page, leading her to one side of the room, followed by their menfolk and several other couples.

Vaughn waited until he saw Nigel start toward the bar, and then walked back to Page from where he'd been watching from across the room. He began to apologize profusely for his jealousy, she refused to accept that, and soon they were having a full-blown argument that attracted even more onlookers.

With everyone's attention focused on the couple, Nigel slipped out of the room. He stopped at the bottom of a long staircase that swept up to the second floor. A security guard was standing there, arms crossed over his chest.

Nigel, with an extremely worried look on his face now, said, "There's a man in the ballroom that, I'm afraid, is going to do something quite violent to his wife if someone doesn't step in. There's a crowd watching but—" He shrugged, shaking his head.

Nigel could see the conflicting thoughts crossing the guard's face. His job was to keep anyone from going upstairs, but the idea that a woman could be in trouble, or worse, obviously did not sit well with him. Finally he came to a decision. "Show me," he ordered, indicating that Nigel should come with him to the ballroom.

Nigel led the way, stepping back into the room with the guard right behind him. At that moment, Page let out a shrill cry of fear. The guard immediately hurried toward her, leaving Nigel where he was. Seconds later Nigel was back at the staircase. After one quick check to make certain no one was watching, he walked swiftly up to the second floor.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Three Lovers on the Grift - 4



"You, my sweet, look ravishing," Vaughn said, his gaze raking over Page.

"Thank you, your majesty." She curtsied deeply, which gave him a very interesting view of her bosom, the dress being somewhat closer to risqué than authentic. "Nigel isn't so bad either," she told him with a salacious wink.

Vaughn had to agree with her assessment. Nigel was wearing a tunic that, had it been an inch shorter and he hadn't been wearing a jockstrap under his tights, would have made him almost pornographic.

"We'll be the hit of the gala," Nigel commented, linking his arm with Page's. "Poor Vaughn, he's the odd one out."

"I'd better be if we're going to make this work." Vaughn smoothed a hand down his longer, dark tunic. "The cab should be here momentarily so make damned good and certain you both have everything."

"Yes, bossman." Nigel patted the small purse hanging from his belt, "Invitation and the rest."

Vaughn's cell rang at that moment and after answering he told them, "Our chariot has arrived." Then he strode quickly to the kitchen, dropped the phone into the trash compactor and flipped the switch. After one more look around the ground floor of the now empty house, he followed Page out to the cab.

* * * *

Nigel stayed out of view, watching from behind the almost closed curtains. When they were gone he went to the kitchen, turning the compactor off now that it had done its job. Then he picked up the bag that sat by the front door, slipped on his topcoat, stepped outside, and headed down the street.

At the far corner he went left, spotting the cab that had been called for him sitting in the parking lot of a large and very modern highrise. He rapped on the back window to let the driver know he was there before getting in. Fifteen minutes later he was exiting the cab at the gates of a large mansion. The bright lights that played across the front of it cast correspondingly dark shadows along the drive leading to the front door. Nigel slipped into them, dropping the bag he was carrying behind a flowering shrub, along with the coat. Then he strolled casually up the walk, joining the throng of party-goers at the door. Once he showed his invitation he was allowed to enter the mansion.

To his right was a large living room where couples mingled, chatting as they waited for the festivities to begin. On his left were a pair of tall doors that he knew led to a huge ballroom. Over the myriad voices, he could hear musicians tuning up behind the portals.

He joined the other guests, stopping at a small bar along one wall of the living room to get a glass of wine. Then he looked around for his partners, smiling when he saw Vaughn standing rather stiffly beside Page. She was talking animatedly to two young men as Vaughn looked on in stern disapproval. The scene was being set, and as soon as they were allowed into the ballroom, the game would begin.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Three Lovers on the Grift - 3



"Better haul than we thought it would be," Page told the guys after she'd emptied the wallets of their cash. "Whoever said this was a credit card world never met these people."

"Over a thousand dollars for fifteen minutes work," Nigel commented as he dried his dark blond hair after washing out the temporary color. "Not too shabby; and only one half-assed bruise on my part."

"Next time, try for none," Vaughn suggested. "I hate having to baby you." He grinned, winking at Page who laughed in response to his words.

"The day you baby me—" Nigel mock growled.

"Been there, done that, if you'll remember rightly."

"Yeah, well, so I was a novice back then. I didn't have the advantage of your vast experience to help me figure out how to do it the right way."

Vaughn smiled, remembering the first time he'd seen Nigel. The younger man was curled up in the middle of the street in front of a car's bumper. The panic stricken driver was trying to help him while pleading with him not to call the cops. Vaughn had hurried over to offer assistance, pulling out his cell with the intention of notifying 911 that there had been an accident.

Nigel grinned, watching Vaughn's face, surmising what he was thinking. "Good thing I stopped you."

"Good thing it was me and not your average worried onlooker," Vaughn retorted. "Orange is not your color."

"But it was you, and the rest is history. And I didn't make out too badly on my take from that sucker."

"Which," Page pointed out from her seat at the table, "all went to pay to get you fixed up again."

"Uh-uh, I came away with fifty dollars in the end."

Page rolled her eyes before going back to making out a deposit slip for their ill-gotten gains. When Nigel stepped close enough to ruffle her hair, she swatted his hand away, telling him to behave or else.

"Or else? You'll take me to bed and ravage me, with Vaughn's help?"

"Nope, we'll lock you out and you'll have to suffer listening to us." She grinned and then signed the deposit slip, handing it and the money to Vaughn since he was still dressed.

"Bitch," Nigel muttered, but he was smiling as he walked away, needing to get some clothes on since they were going out for the evening.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Three Lovers on the Grift - 2

Nigel started to cross the street just as the car pulled out of the bar's parking lot. When it hit him, he rolled across the hood, banging into the windshield before landing in a heap on the pavement. The driver slammed on his brakes and seconds later was out of his vehicle. Kneeling beside Nigel, he said, "Oh my God, are you all right? I didn't see you. I'm sorry, I'm sorry."

Nigel struggled to sit up, shaking his head as a crowd began to gather. An authoritative voice said, "I'm a doctor. Let me take a look."

Vaughn joined the driver, hunching down, running his hands expertly over Nigel, searching for any damage. "You need to call your insurance company," he finally said to the driver.

"How bad—" The driver looked panicked, which was small wonder since his breath smelled strongly of beer.

"He should go to a hospital. I don't think he's badly hurt but that's just from a cursory check," Vaughn replied.

"Look," the driver said, turning to Nigel, "would you—I don't want to—if I paid you, would you forget this happened? I can't afford to talk to the cops, I mean—" He looked around as if expecting them to show up any second now. "I have some money on me." He pulled out his wallet.

Nigel stood, with Vaughn's help, wincing in bogus pain. "I guess," he said hesitantly. "It depends if it's enough to cover the hospital visit."

The driver quickly pulled out some bills, not even looking at them as he handed them to Nigel.

Nigel resisted smiling as he counted them out. "I think this should do."

With a sigh of relief the driver thanked him for understanding the predicament he would have been in. Then he hurried around to get back in his car, wiping a hand across his sweaty forehead.

A woman in the small crowd of onlookers stepped forward to ask Nigel in a concerned voice, "Do you need a ride to the hospital?"

He smiled weakly, moving out of the way as the man who'd hit him backed up and then drove slowly, carefully, away. "If you don't mind."

"I wouldn't have offered if I did." Page turned to Vaughn. "Could you help him? I'm parked in that lot over there." She pointed to one across the street from where they stood.

Vaughn nodded, putting an arm around Nigel's waist. As they moved toward the parking lot, the crowd began dispersing.

Page grinned, adjusting her bag on her shoulder as she hurried on ahead of them. "We done good," she told them moments later when they'd gone through the lot to the alley. "I so love crowd scenes."

"That man was loaded. I wonder if he even realizes how much he gave me." Nigel handed the cash, over five-hundred dollars, to Page. She stuffed it in her bag next to the wallets she'd lifted from various onlookers while they watched what was happening.

"Job well done." Vaughn smiled at his lovers. "Let's go home, change, and then celebrate with a good dinner out."

Monday, February 20, 2017

Three Lovers on the Grift - 1



Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble."

"It's 'Double, double', and that's not the kind of trio we want anyways."

"Beats the hell out of sitting around knitting and snipping as the Fates." Vaughn chuckled.

"Or singing 'Tom Dooley'."

"Good gods no! We need to come up with something sexy."

"Says the only female in the group."

Page frowned at Nigel. "What's wrong with sexy?"

Holding up his hands in surrender, Nigel told her, "Not a damned thing, if it weren't for the fact that you'd want us dressed in next to nothing."

She grinned sweetly. "Now would I do that?"

"In a heartbeat," Vaughn said from the computer. Turning back to it, he suggested, "We can take our cue from the movie and be 'The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly'."

"Only if you do 'Ugly'," Nigel told him with a laugh, going to look over his shoulder at the screen. "There. 'Ready, Willing, and Able'."

"How the hell would we do that?”," Page asked from Vaughn's other side. Tapping the screen with its list of trios, she pointed to the song title ‘Sex, drugs, and rock and roll’

"Arthur, Lancelot, and Guinevere."

Nigel nodded. "Now that one I could live with."

"Me too," Vaughn agreed, "and it works. We've got a week to get it together before the gala."

"Then find us the best costume shop in the city," Page told him, "while I go get ready for this afternoon's little jaunt."

Nigel grinned. "You could go like that. It would definitely be a diversion."

"Not the kind we need." She patted his nearly naked ass as she headed to their bedroom to get dressed.

Vaughn tilted his head back to look up at Nigel, chuckling in amusement. "You'd have her walking around like that twenty-four/seven if you had your way."

"Wouldn't you?" Nigel dropped a kiss on Vaughn's lips and then sighed. "I guess we all need more clothes than we're wearing at the moment."

"You especially. Don't forget—"

"I won't, I won't."

Saturday, February 18, 2017

(100) Trevor Wallace – Dhampir



Vampyre.

One word. It all comes back. I shake my head in denial.

"I murdered him."

"Who, baby?" Del's eyes widen in question. "Who?"

"Him." The story spills out as if telling it will free me from the guilt. As I tell it I pace. Afraid to look at them.

When I finish Lenny sighs. "I did wonder if you were responsible. I heard he'd been killed. He was a good man."

"But you said nothing." I turn to stare at him then lower my gaze. I feel my guilt deeply, still.

He spreads his hands in acceptance of my words. "I was torn between telling you what I thought, not knowing how you'd react, and leaving you as you were so there'd be one less slayer of my kind taking up his sword against us." 

Pete puts in his own two cents worth. "Trev, you were only doing what you're programmed to do."

"Fuck that. No one should leave their morals behind. Do you, Pete? Do you go out and kill whoever you're pointed at, with no thought about whether they deserve it not?"

He blows out a long breath. "I used to. Then Vik showed me that wasn't right." He stares at me hard. "Maybe this was your awakening, Trevor, or the second one. The more crucial one. You've already accepted that Vik's one of the good guys, even though he is a Vampyre. Now you've met two more. Unfortunately, you had to kill one of them before the lesson really sank in."

I run my hands through my hair and clasp them behind my head. Nod as I think about what he said. "Hell of a way to learn something isn't it?"

Del has been listening. Now he asks. "How did the accident happen? Were you..." He hesitates.

"Trying to kill myself? I don't know, Del." I say, more to myself than him, "I don't know. I was riding blind. Running from what I'd done and the guilt I felt. From the realization of what I am."

"What you were," Del says adamantly.

"We don't know that. Yeah, I feel like the lowest thing crawling right now, but who's to say that the next time I run into a Vampyre I won't do the same thing again. Pete's right. I was programmed to kill them from the day I was born. It's been all that I am. The reason for my existence."

"Then change, Trevor." Lenny approaches. Puts his hand on my arm. "I can't stress this strongly enough. We are not all the enemy." He smiles slightly, "Although many of us are, unfortunately. We're like any species. There are good and bad. With Vampyres the bad ones out number the good by a lot, I'm afraid. We're predators, humans are our prey. That's the way it is and the way it's perceived by too many of my kind."

"And those are the ones I have to destroy. But how do I know? How do I decide which one should live and which should die?"

"The same way Pete does." Del looks between us. "You study them. You don't believe what you've been told about one until you've checked for yourself."

Lenny agrees. "It won't be easy, Trevor. I know, if you're like most Dhampir, that you spend your nights out and about searching for Vampyres. Ninety percent of the time it will be obvious from their actions that they deserve to die. But if you feel even the slightest doubt, hold back. Find their lair, their home—and then wait. See if they kill or if they just feed. Hell, I don't have to give you the details. You're more than aware of what's what. Just don't let your hatred be your guide line."

"I'm going to try. I owe that much to you and Vik and most of all, to the one I murdered in cold blood."

Del takes my hands in his. "I'll be there with you. I'll..."

"Smack him up side the head if he screws up?" Pete laughs.

"Yes, that too." Del grins. And then says to me, "I love you, so I'm going to make certain that you don't go off the deep end again, for both our sakes."

"I love you, too." I realize that's the truth. I tip his chin up. Kiss him gently. He wraps his arms around me. Returns it.

I hear Pete ask Lenny. "Can they use your bedroom?"

Break the kiss to glare at him. Then grin. "We'll wait till we get home." 

I go over to Lenny. My arm still around Del. I'm not letting go of him just yet. "I don't know how to thank you. You saved my life in more ways than one. I'll never forget that, as I'm your enemy, you had every right to kill me—and didn't."

"What you have to remember is that we're all of us human." He waggles his hand. "So to speak. We have the same scruples, good or bad, as anyone else. Keep that in mind from now on and you'll do well, Trevor." He actually hugs me then. "I'm glad we met. If you're ever in the neighborhood again, stop in. All right?"

"I will. You're good people, especially," I grin, "for a Vampyre."

"You're not too bad either—for a Dhampir."

"One who's learned a big lesson that I won't forget." I take Del's hand, holding it tight. "Let's go home."

The End

Thursday, February 16, 2017

(99) Trevor Wallace – Dhampir



Outside the cabin, he listens. There are two men in there. They sound...familiar. What does the one mean by his question?

He frowns. Does he know them? Do they know him?

Hesitantly, he opens the door.

"Trev!" The smaller one starts towards him.

He looks at him with no recognition.

The smile on his face turns to worry. "Trev, it's me. Del."

"Del?" Something sparks in his eyes. Then dies. He looks at Lenny.

"These are friends of yours. Del and Pete. They've been searching for you and now it looks like they've found you."

"Del. Pete." He tests the names. Shakes his head. "I'm sorry, I...I don't remember."

Del steps closer. Reaches to take his hand. "It's alright, baby. We'll help you remember. We just have to get you home and then you'll see. It'll all come back to you, I promise."

"Where is 'home'?"

"New Orleans, the French Quarter. Your house there." Del smiles tentatively. "Ring any bells?"

He frowns deeply. "No. I wish it did."

Pete comes over. "Don't try to force it, Trevor. Do you remember anything at all?"

"I know how to use a sword, strangely enough, but I have no clue why. Or why I had one with me. And once in a while some word or another triggers something but then it's gone again." He sighs. "I guess I must have done something horrible. Or at least that's the theory we came up with." He looks at Lenny. "Something my mind won't let me remember so it's blocking everything."

Pete glances at Lenny. "Did he hit his head in the crash?"

"Yep, and lots of other body parts too." He chuckles. "He was a real mess when I found him, but nothing broken or I might have taken him to the hospital anyway."

"Why didn't you?"

"I think you know."

"What do they know? And why did he…Del, ask you if I knew what you were? What are you?"

No one speaks for a moment. Del and Pete look at Lenny. Finally Del says, "Tell him."

"I'm a Vampyre."

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

(98) Trevor Wallace – Dhampir

Lenny looks at Pete. "You don't smell like a ghoul, despite telling me you're his lover."

Pete snorts. "Why do all of you assume that because I have a Vampyre lover I must be a ghoul? He's never even suggested that he drink from us, as much as we might want him to."

"We? How many of you are there? And why would you want him to unless..." Lenny's eyes spark with understanding. "You want to be blood bound to him. Not as his ghouls but as more."

"Yeah." Pete nods as he glances at Del, perched on the arm of the sofa listening. He looks back at Lenny. "And there are only two of us." He chuckles. "Though some people would think that's one too many."

"Most humans would think it's two too many." Lenny shakes his head in indignation. "What do you think you will get from a blood bond?"

"Well, better sex for one thing." Pete grins then sobers. "There are stories of what it can mean, most of which are probably fairy tales. But to be honest, all either of us want is the total commitment from him that he's been unwilling to give."

"Pete!" Del looks at him in surprise. "You don't think he's committed? From what I've seen you're dead wrong."

"I know he loves us, Del. But if we bond with him it becomes deeper than love."

Lenny nods. "You will become more aware of all of his emotions. You will know when he's in trouble or in pain and the same for him. He'll know where you are at all times and will come to you if you need him. You will also gain strength and become more attractive to other humans. You'll be healthier and heal faster. But be aware, Pete, you will also crave the taste of his blood and will sicken if you go too long without it. If he dies, then in time so will you from lack of it. Being blood bound is not something to take lightly. It's not to be used as an aphrodisiac."

"If he dies, why would I want to keep living? I love him."

"For Mychael." Del gives him a 'duh' look.

"He has a valid point, since there are three of you involved." Lenny frowns. "Are you hoping he will eventually turn you?"

"Hell no! I've seen what his life is like. I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy."

Lenny laughs. "It's not all bad. There are perks, as I'm sure you're aware. But like you, I really wouldn't wish it on any but my worst enemies."

Del gets up. Goes to the window to look out. "Where is he?"

"Patience, Del, sometimes it's late before he returns."

He turns. "Does he know what you are?"

Sunday, February 12, 2017

(97) Trevor Wallace – Dhampir



"I don't believe you. You'd have said that in the first place if it was true." The kid's eyes flash angrily. "Go in and tell him Del's here."

"Now Del, why would I want to go and do that even if he was here? If he wanted to see you, he'd have let you know."

Del looks at him with shock on his face. "If he could have, he would have, I know it. You have no idea what we've been through together, how much I love him and he loves me because of that." He walks up to Lenny. Pokes a finger in his chest. "Let me see him. Now."

Lenny laughs softly. Looks down at him. "You got gumption, for your size, I'll give you that. If you want to take a look, be my guest. There's no one here but me."

He leads them to the cabin. Opens the door. Stands aside while they enter.

"Pete?" Del looks up at him.

"I'll look. You keep our surly host company." He does. Searches the cabin. Steps out of the bathroom to look at Lenny. "Do you always use two toothbrushes?"

Lenny doesn't bat an eye. "For my lady friend."

Del shakes his head. "No. No 'lady friend'. No woman would let this place look like it does. There's no feminine touches here at all."

"Are you calling me a liar, kid?"

"Yes." Del stares at him defiantly. "Maybe I'm just a…a kid, as you put it, but I know. I remember how my mom was." He walks to the kitchen. "Look at this, no woman would let you get away with having only what's here. Not if she was at all involved with you. Involved enough to have her own toothbrush. I bet the bathroom's just as bad." He comes back. Stops in front of Lenny arms akimbo. "When's he due back?"

Lenny sighs. Glances at Pete who just shrugs.

"He doesn't know who he is, or what he is."

Del's eyes widen. "You know?"

Lenny moves around her. Sits on the edge of the sofa. "I've run into his kind before. I make it my business to know who my enemies are."

"But you...you let him live. You did, didn't you? You're not playing some cruel joke on me."

If Lenny's surprised Del knows what he is, he doesn't show it. "Not all of us are evil, Del, no matter what he's told you. He's alive. He'll probably be back soon."

Pete comes around the sofa. Looks down at Lenny. "Believe me we know there are good, decent Vampyres, and Trevor knows that as well. My lover is one and he's a friend of his, as well."

Friday, February 10, 2017

'His Best Friend's Brother' release day!

His Best Friend's Brother
 
Despite being deeply in the closet, thirty-one-year-old Kade Harlow loves his life as a bartender at the Tavern, unglamorous as that life may be. That is about to change, however, when his best friend's younger brother returns to town.

Alex Rowe has had a crush on Kade since he was a teenager, despite their nine-year age difference. When he gets an acting job at the local theater, he moves back to town then stops by the bar to visit Kade.

Wary of Alex's interest in him, Kade fights his growing attraction to the younger man for reasons he's unwilling to reveal to Alex--the same reasons that have kept him closeted his entire life. Can Alex break through the barriers Kade has put up or are his dreams of a relationship with Kade doomed to failure?

EXCERPT:
When Kade walked into the Tavern Wednesday night, he was greeted with shouts of "Happy Birthday" but that was it. No hats or noisemakers, No streamers. There was a sign above the bar that said, Happy Birthday, Kade. That, he could live with.

He called out "Thanks" as he made his way behind the bar. After that, it seemed as if it would be business as usual, other than customers coming over to offer personal birthday wishes.

It was close to eleven, and Kade had just finished filling a large order that Dan, one of the waiters, had given him for one of the long tables he was serving. The night had turned out to be much busier than usual for a Wednesday--because of his birthday, Kade knew. As a result, he hadn't had much time to do more than mix drinks or open beer bottles. "Some birthday," he grumbled under his breath, even though he was glad to be so busy. That way he didn't have a chance to think about the fact he was now a year older. And not much wiser.

With a second to himself, Kade leaned against the back bar to catch his breath. He closed his eyes for a moment, letting the noise wash over him. Then a voice cut through it, saying, "You haven't changed a bit. I'd recognize you anywhere."

Kade frowned, turning to see who was talking. A handsome, blond, young man was seated on the corner stool. For a second, Kade wondered who the hell he was. Then it hit him. "Alex?" He hadn't seen Mark's brother since he'd graduated from high school and gone out of state to college.

"One and the same," Alex replied, grinning. "Happy Birthday."

"Damn. You've grown up. You're not a kid anymore."

"Happens to everyone." Alex rested his elbows on the bar, studying Kade. "You really do look the same as I remember."

"Uh-huh. Just older and more worn. Want a beer?" He paused. "You're twenty-two, right?"

Alex rolled his eyes. "And counting. A beer sounds good."

Kade felt a bit disconcerted when he got Alex's beer and found that the young man was still watching him intently when he set it down on the bar. He asked, "What brings you back to town?" in hopes of moving his attention to something else.

"I've joined the company at the Civic Theater."

"Seriously? That's great. The last time I talked to him, Mark told me you'd finally gotten your acting degree. Of course, that was...hell, a year ago. We're not too good at keeping in touch since the baby came along."

Alex smiled. "Yeah. Micky's the center of their world, now. He's a cute kid though, so it's no surprise."

"He's what? Four? Right?"

"Yep. And the spitting image of Mark."

"I noticed. They sent me a card last Christmas of the three of them."

Alex turned to look at the crowd. "I don't recognize more than a couple these people."

"After four years, I'm not surprised--especially since you were too young to hang out here back then."

"True." Returning his attention to Kade, Alex asked, "So, how's life been treating you? Are you still dodging the ladies?"

"How the hell did you know about that?"

Alex chuckled. "I remember Mark trying to set you up and you avoiding it like the plague--at least, according to him."

Kade shrugged. "If I'm going to find a woman, I'll do it myself, without anyone pushing their flavor of the month at me."

"Yeah. I get that." Alex took another drink, looking as if he were going to say more, when Brody came out of the tavern's kitchen carrying a huge birthday cake. A cheer went up when he set it down in front of Kade.

At that point, Kade didn't have a chance to continue his conversation with Alex. He blew out the candles then, with Brody's help, they handed out slices of cake to anyone who wanted one. That took a while, and by the time they'd finished, Kade realized Alex was no longer at the bar. Looking around, he saw him sitting at one of the tables with another man and two young women. Probably people from the theater, he decided, as he'd never seen any of them before tonight. Alex had his arm around one of the women, whispering to her. She glanced at the bar and nodded.

So help me, Alex, if you're going to try to fix me up with her... Kade shook his head then got back to work.
 

(96) Trevor Wallace – Dhampir



Lenny watches from the depths of the trees. Evening. Sun nearly set. The sound of the cycle alerts him. Company coming but why?

It comes into view. Blonde male driving with a real skinny kid, from what he can see, behind him. They stop at the edge of the clearing.

His guest is gone at the moment. The one who named himself George. He had taken to hiking. Long walks. Trying to piece together flashes of memory but failing so far.

He listens as the couple talks quietly. But not so quietly that he can't hear them.

"After this we're going back," the blonde man says. "If he's not here we'll start again tomorrow."

The kid nods. "I'm not giving up, Pete."

The man pats his shoulder. Shakes his head. "I'm not expecting you to. I wouldn't if it was Vik missing, or Mychael. Someone has to know something."

They start towards the cabin.

Lenny steps silently towards them. Intercepting them.

"This is private property."

"We just have a question," the man says. "We're looking for a friend who's gone missing. We're very sure he had an accident and that someone found him."

"And didn't take him to the hospital?" Lenny raises an eyebrow questioningly.

The kid speaks up. "Have you seen him, or heard anyone talk about finding him. Please, it's important. If you have..."

"Who are you to this man?"

"We told you, friends," the man says, scowling. "All we want is to know where he is and if he's all right."

Lenny looks him over. "You look like a cop to me, so even if I had seen him, which I haven't, I for sure wouldn't be telling you."

"Me, a cop?" The man snorts in derision. "Far from it, buddy. Real far from it. I'm just helping Del here look for him."

"Why should I believe that?" Lenny crosses his arms over his chest. Stares hard at the man.

"He's here, isn't he, or was." The kid's eyes flick around. Looking for signs. Lenny sees he's not really a kid. Just looks like one, because of his size.

"Was, but he's not here now." Lenny says. Not a lie but not the truth either.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

(95) Trevor Wallace – Dhampir



(Del)

"How do we know...?"

"That it was him?" Pete stooped, picking up one of the smaller rocks to show me. There was paint in the long scratch across it. Paint the color of Trev's bike.

He squatted, examining the ground closely before standing again, his eyes moving back and forth slowly over the area between where we were and the river. Then he walked a few yards further down and stopped, beckoning me to join him.

"I think, I'm fairly certain, that he didn't go into the river. Obviously I'm no expert but that looks like blood to me."

I would have laughed if I hadn't felt so panicky. He of all people would know blood when he saw it—well him and Vik. What he said was blood was on a plant in the shade of one of the trees, well protected from view and the weather. The ground was dampish, as it had been all along the edge of the river. He knelt down on one knee, searching for something and nodded.

"A footprint, going that way." He pointed towards the access road that joined the highway. "It could be his, someone who found him, or nobody's in particular. But if I had to make a guess, from the depth of it, we can eliminate him. I'd be more inclined to think someone found him and carried him from here to their vehicle."

"Which means he could be anywhere out there." I swept my hand out, encompassing the area this side of the highway. "Or...or somewhere else entirely."

"Unfortunately, yes. Come on." He headed towards the road, watching the ground as he did. "There's another one, same shoe, just as deep." When we arrived at the edge of the road he paused and then smiled slightly. "See there? What does that tell you?"

I felt like a student taking a final exam as I looked at the footprint at the edge of the road. He waited patiently as he watched me.

"It's pointed away from the highway for one." Biting my lip I thought about that. "Wait... All right. If someone had a car here, or a truck, and they did have Trev, he must have opened the door to put him inside and a car door opens this way," I mimed it, "meaning the car had to be facing west, also away from the highway."

"Very good, Del. So, in theory, Trev went straight when the highway curved here to accommodate the side road and ended up down there. From where the blood was, I'd say he managed to get that far before he passed out. Then someone either saw him, or his bike, and came down to check things out, picked him up, and carried him to their car. Since the car was facing in that direction, the person had come off of the highway, heading west. I'm not sure how much that narrows our search but at least we have a starting point now."

Monday, February 6, 2017

(94) Trevor Wallace – Dhampir



(Del)

"Logic dictates he went off the highway south of here," Pete said as we pulled out of Lecompte. When I asked why he explained, "North by much, and whoever snagged his bike would have headed up to Alexandria to sell the parts because it's a real city. Or I would have if it'd been me."

"How are we going to find the spot?"

"We'll start with any places the road curves significantly. If he was tired, he may not have seen it until too late."

"Like there?" I pointed to a place a few hundreds yards ahead of us.

"Exactly."

Pulling the bike on to the shoulder he climbed off, going to the edge to look down. "If it was here, there's nothing to show for it but I'll go down closer just in case."

A few minutes later he came back, shaking his head. I nodded. It would have been too easy, finding it on the first stop, though I had hoped.

We continued slowly down the highway, staying as close to the edge as possible. Two more stops, with no better results than the first one, and I was starting to wonder if we were on the wrong track. Pete must have been of the same opinion, because he pulled up to a spot where a side road entered the highway, telling me after this one we might just try walking the length back to Lecompte.

"At least," he pointed out as he got off the bike yet again, "we only have to check one side, since we can presume he was on his way back home when the accident happened, from the timeframe of the punks stopping at the scrap yard."

I watched as he stepped to the edge of the embankment.

"Let's hope it wasn't here, the river runs real close. If he ended up in it," he shook his head as he climbed down the embankment. A minute later he was back. "We may have lift off."

I shuddered. After what he'd said moments ago, I didn't like that idea at all. He moved the bike as close to the side of the road as possible, locked it, and I followed him down.

"Look there." He pointed.

I could see what he meant. A few feet from the edge of the river the rocks were torn up. Some of them scraped and others with the dirt side up. He nodded towards the embankment and I could see where something had been dragged up it.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Release day for 'You Can Never Walk Away'!

You Can Never Walk Away
 
When his lover is killed while they're on a job, Kegan goes into seclusion, vowing never to return to the Agency, the covert organization they worked for. His handler has other ideas, tricking Kegan into coming back, then partnering him with Gage to find and eliminate Ash, a rogue operative.

Kegan and Gage locate Ash only to discover he's on the run because he found out that Patterson, the head of the Agency, is not what he seems. When the three men team up to bring Patterson down, will their budding personal relationship save them -- or get them killed?

EXCERPT:
    "Still no sign of him," Morse said when Gage came into his office, four days after the James murder.

    "He'll show eventually. He'll want to know who the hell is trying to --" Gage stopped talking when Morse's intercom beeped.

    "You have a call on line two," the receptionist told Morse. "He wouldn't give me his name. Instead he said to tell you he was an old acquaintance who hasn't talked with you in a couple of months."

    Morse thanked her, then answered the phone. "How may I help you?" he asked.

    "Find out who the bastard is who's impersonating me," a rough voice replied.

    Smiling, Morse said, "Welcome home, Kegan."

    "I'm not home," Kegan told him. "Far from it."

    "Then welcome back."

    There was a low laugh before Kegan said, "Same song, different words. I'm not back—yet. I might never be."

    "Would it be too much for me to ask if you're in the city?"

    "I am."

    "Can we meet somewhere? You name the time and place."

    After a brief pause, Kegan said, "The boathouse at the park. Ten P.M. Any tricks and I'll be gone before you know I was there."

    Genuinely puzzled, Morse asked, "Why would I try to trick you?"

    "Because you're you. It's what you do."

    "Good point. All right, I'll be there at ten. Alone."

    * * * *

    Kegan watched from the trees on the other side of the lake, scanning the area around the boathouse. He wanted to be certain that Morse hadn't planted someone to witness their conversation -- and perhaps do more. The park had closed to vehicular traffic at nine-thirty, meaning anyone approaching the boathouse had to do so on foot. Morse did, precisely at ten, going up the steps then across the main room to one of the arched openings that looked out over the lake, resting his hips against the railing.

    Moving stealthily, Kegan rounded the lake -- ever aware of his surroundings, and any possible watchers -- until he was at the steps. Sensing that they were alone, he joined Morse, staying in the shadow of the arch.

    "It's been a while, Kegan," Morse said with a nod of his head. "From the look of you, you've been keeping fit."

    Kegan shrugged. "It gave me something to do."

    "Bored?" Morse asked, almost smiling.

    "I had my moments," Kegan replied before getting down to why he was there. "What do you know about the murder of the drug company VP?"

    "I know who did it, if that's what you're asking. Gage Dekker. At my orders."

    "Yeah, I figured you were behind it. Why Dekker?"

    "The man needed to be eliminated. The company he worked for was manufacturing and selling counterfeit drugs to several dealers in the city." Morse pointed one finger at Kegan. "I decided, why not kill two birds with one stone. Get him out of the picture and hopefully bring you back at the same time. I was well aware, if you learned about it, and how he was killed, you would want to find out who was impersonating you."

    "Damned straight." Kegan shook his head. "And I fell for it." He paused, looking out across the lake. "Why Gage?"

    "He knows your style well enough to imitate it accurately."

    "Nope. I would never kill someone so publically. At least not up-close-and-personal, the way he did."

    "True. But if he hadn't done it that way, the method would never have been made public. We needed witnesses who would tell the cops, and the press, what they saw. We got what we were aiming for; although it took you long enough to react."

    Kegan nodded. "I rarely kept up with the news -- the outside world. No phone. No computer or TV. Sometimes I'd pick up a newspaper. It was just luck that I did this time and saw the story."

    "You really did go into seclusion. But then I knew that. If you had kept your phone and used it, or gone online --"

    "You'd have found out where I was before I hung up or shut down." Kegan began to pace, pausing to look at Morse once or twice. "Why do you want me back? I fucked up my last assignment and Tony died because of it." He heard the pain in his voice when he said Tony's name, and felt the ache in his heart that had never truly left him.
 

(93) Trevor Wallace – Dhampir



(Del)

"No one by his description at this one either," Pete said as he called the last hospital listed in the phone book. We'd split the list, hoping for something. Trev wasn't at any of them, hospitals or clinics, anywhere close to Lecompte.

"Now what?" I asked him, lying back on my bed staring up at the cracked ceiling.

"Now we get some sleep and in the morning we go searching for the crash site." He flopped down on the adjoining bed and looked over at me. "Del, we're going to find him one way or another."

I turned my head to glance at him. "How? Even if we do find where he crashed, we know he's not there now. He could be anywhere. If he's alive. Gods, please let him be alive and just lost or...or..."

"Or with someone who maybe found him. If he was conscious, it's quite possible, knowing him, that he refused to go to a hospital, especially since he would have been carrying his sword. That would be a bit hard to explain. He did have it with him, right?"

"Always." I sighed. "But who would let him make the decision if he was hurt as badly as the bike?"

"Think positive Del. If he was thrown from it he could have just sustained minor damages."

"Then why hasn't he called?"

"That, Del, we won't know until we find him. If he staggered away, well." His mouth tightened. "There's bayous out there as well as farm land, fields." He was looking at his iPhone as he talked, checking MapQuest or whatever. "A few scattered houses." 

"This is a wild goose chase, isn't it Pete?"

"Absolutely not! We know more than we did before we got here, and tomorrow we'll find where he crashed. Then we'll go from there." He snorted and I looked at him, wondering what was so amusing. "I can see us hiring out a bloodhound, just like in the movies, to track him."

"Actually, you know, that's not such a bad idea."

"Del, they need something of his to sniff, I think. You can't just say 'Find Trevor' and they take off." He thought about that. "On the other hand, if there's still any blood there..."

I nodded. I didn't want to talk about that, even though I knew it was a definite possibility. He reached across the space between our beds and patted my arm.

"We won't do him, or ourselves, any good if we don't get some sleep. So go shower and get to bed."

Managing a small smile I asked, "Is that an order?"

"Damned straight. And don't even think about whapping me upside the head young man."

I actually laughed then, looking at him as I slid off the bed. "If we were different people and the circumstances were different, I might take up that challenge."

He grinned. "That could be interesting. Now, off with you. And if I'm asleep when you come out, do not wake me. The alarm's set for six."

Twenty minutes later I was curled up, trying to sleep. I heard Pete say softly, "We're going to find him Del."

I prayed he was right.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

(92) Trevor Wallace – Dhampir



(Del)

"So this is the first place where someone used his cards," I said, looking at the shops on the main street of Lecompte.

"Yep. At a restaurant called,"—Pete checked the list—"Lea's, and for gas. We should check them out first, to see if it was him or someone else."

"Would they really remember someone from a few days ago?"

"Probably not but it's worth a try. Trevor's pretty distinctive. He'd stand out, especially in a small town like this, so at least we might be able to find out if he actually was the one using the cards."

I had to agree. We went to Lea's first. It was past lunchtime and the place was still busy. Something about their pies, from the sign I read. Pete found us seats at the counter and when the waitress came over he ordered us each a slice of pie, apparently their specialty. Then he asked her if she'd seen a man in here in the last week, tall, long black hair, with a fang earring—explaining that he had gone missing.

She said no but that she'd ask the others. By the time we'd finished she returned to tell us that no one had seen him. He thanked her and we went from there to the gas station.

The owner was an older man, dressed in well worn coveralls. He listened to Pete's description and shook his head.

"What was he driving, that might help."

Pete looked at me and I described Trev's cycle. By the time I'd finished the man was frowning.

"Hate to tell you, young man, but unless I miss my guess, that's the one a couple of punks tried to sell for parts at the scrap yard down the road a piece. From what Bobby Joe told me, it was so trashed there was nothing salvageable on it."

My heart sank. Pete gave my shoulder a quick squeeze before asking if there was a hospital close by. The man told us the nearest ones were in Alexandria, about fifteen miles away.

After thanking him, and getting the address of the scrap yard, we went there. Bobby Joe was able to give us a sort of description of the two dudes who had hauled the cycle in, in the back of their truck. Unfortunately he hadn't noted the license plate numbers, which made Pete growl, though under his breath so only I heard him.

It was Trev's bike, what was left of it.

"If he survived the crash he, had to have been in bad shape," Pete pointed out softly.

"I won't believe that he didn't. I can't believe he died. We have to go to the hospitals." I was close to tears but I wouldn't let them fall. Not yet. Not till we knew one way or the other.

"We'll call first, Del. No sense heading up there without knowing if anyone found him. My opinion, the fact that those punks had his bike says that he managed to walk away somehow." As we got on Pete's bike, he told me we were going to get a motel room for the night at least. Maybe longer, depending on what we learned.